If you want to pursue a career as a veterinary surgeon, you will need to gain as much work experience as possible. Applying for work experience is not a difficult task, but the high demand for placements means they are often in short supply.
Whether you are lucky enough to gain work experience in a veterinary surgery for a few days or a few weeks, you should look to make the most of your time spent there. Here is some advice that will help you to do so.
Follow the dress code
Wear smart but practical clothing, such as tailored trousers and a polo shirt. Make sure you also wear comfortable shoes as it is likely that you will spend a lot of time on your feet.
Make a good impression
As in any job, it is important to turn up on time and greet everyone in a friendly way. Take every opportunity to get to know your colleagues – from the receptionist right through to the head veterinary surgeon. This will help you feel more comfortable in your working environment.
Listen carefully to any instructions you are given and note down important information. A veterinary surgeon’s time is a precious commodity so you must not bother them unnecessarily.
Offer to help
Never be a "passive" learner, be proactive – emphasise your willingness to get involved and show your supervisor you are keen to lend a hand.
By using every opportunity to prove your talents and skills, you will be able to walk away with the knowledge that you met some, if not all, of your objectives.
Ask for feedback
Gather informal feedback from your supervisor as you go along, rather than at the end of your placement. This will give you a chance to understand your strengths and weaknesses and refine your approach as time goes by.
Jot down any useful information about the tasks you have been involved in and the skills you have learned along the way. This will help you to create a written record of everything you have gained from your placement, which may come in handy when you apply for veterinary jobs.
Work experience can be daunting, but it is important to remember that it will not only improve your CV, it will also provide you with the chance to figure out whether a career as a veterinary surgeon really is right for you.